Immigration & Green Card Law Firm, Lawyers, Attorneys: San Franscisco Bay Area to San Jose: The Best and Worst Clients: A Lawyer's Perspective

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Best and Worst Clients: A Lawyer's Perspective

mThis article may be the most important one among all the pieces I have written so far. In this article, I’d like to tell the readers a secret - what kind of client will receive the best service from his/her lawyer and therefore most likely secure a successful outcome? Although all lawyers have different personalities and working styles, there are general guidelines to being a good client as there are rules of thumb for being a good lawyer. In a modern society, everyone is likely to require legal services at least once, if not, more. I hope this article will help the readers to become a better client and receive better service at no additional cost.

Although lawyers are engaged in providing professional services in exchange for monetary compensation, they are also human beings, and they will, as in any human relationship, work harder for people and cases they care about. I am a lawyer and have been a client of other lawyers as well. I understand both perspectives. A client, after working with his/her lawyer, may feel lucky to have found such a competent lawyer and may other times feel it was a disastrous decision to retain that lawyer and wishes to replace him/her. The same goes for the lawyer. A lawyer may find one client a pleasure to represent and another a nightmare.

Choosing the right lawyer and deciding to represent a client both take good judgment. The first thing to look for is the lawyer’s specialty. Ask for referrals and try to locate lawyers in the specialization you want, visit his/her website, look up the business listings, etc. Second, try to find a lawyer that is not only experienced but also one that is responsive and easy to work with by talking to them on the phone if you are able. Lawyers, who are not available to talk to you initially, generally will not have a lot of time for you even after you retain them. More often that not, this unavailability is more style than substance. Often times, through the first few phone conversations, even without a face-to-face consultation, one can learn if the lawyer is competent to deal with your situation, talks to you substantively, and if s/he seems trustworthy as a person. We all have the ability to perceive something about another, a second sense. Also, remember, as you are screening for a good lawyer, the lawyer may be screening you. Lawyers do not have to take all the cases, and good lawyers are even more selective about what cases they take on given their limited time.

Once you have chosen a lawyer for your case, and he/she has chosen you, keep an open and honest dialogue and keep your lawyer informed of all the changes in your situation. Discuss all your concerns as early as possible, and follow instructions promptly. Don’t give your lawyer the impression that just because you paid him/her you are entitled then to simply lay your problems at the feet of the lawyer and he/she is now responsible to solve your case without your help. Remember that your lawyer is there to guide you and help lead you to the resolution of the matter; do not assume and expect that the lawyer will create and generate required documents and evidence for you. The client is responsible for providing all the facts and materials so that his/her lawyers can have the best and most accurate picture of the circumstances and then represent the client to their best ability.

Clients that are difficult to represent and seem to complicate their situation even more include those who wait too long before seeking professional help; those who reveal facts selectively; and those who fight against the lawyer’s advice. In all these cases, the clients themselves are likely to damage their own case more than what has already happened. In doing so, they will not only cause a delay in problem resolution but also lose respect from their lawyer.

I find that good clients work with the lawyer and help resolve even the most difficult cases successfully, and relatively painlessly, and that bad clients make the most straightforward cases difficult to complete. Once a mutually respectful relationship has been established, your lawyer will try to go out of his/her way to help you. I personally lose sleep over my clients’ cases and sometimes even dream of a perfect solution. Each and every time I obtain a successful resolution of a client’s matter, I feel the greatest reward for my career. I have experienced many lawyer-client relationships evolving into very pleasant and mutually beneficial professional relationships. I hope all the readers will learn to choose a good lawyer, be a good client, and obtain a successful outcome by establishing a positive and trusting relationship with their lawyers.

The information provided throughout the Website is general in nature and may not apply to any particular set of facts or circumstances. It should not be construed as legal advice and does not constitute an engagement of Heller Immigration Law Group, LLP, or establish an attorney-client relationship.

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